Westonbirt arboretum

Acer palmatum leavesJapanese maple leaves
Larix deciduaEuropean larch
Carpinus betulusHornbeam roots

Westonbirt Arboretum is a huge place with a lot of huge trees! The arboretum was founded in the mid 1800s by Robert Holford, owner of the Westonbirt estate in Gloucestershire, England.

According to the Forestry commission's info about Westonbirt there are around 15,000 labelled trees to see - quite a mind-blowing number!

I took over 350 photos in 5 hours and have chosen the most interesting for you to see here. All of these pictures are from the Old Arboretum.

my walk around westonbirt arboretum

We start off in the ladies' loo again! No greenery in here, unlike at Kew - unless you count the loo doors ;)

Green bathroom at WestonbirtLadies' bathroom at Westonbirt

My walk started at Down Gate, the entrance to Mitchell Drive, which is named after William J. Mitchell, the first curator of the arboretum. You can immediately see that there are going to be a lot of impressive trees to take in!

To the left of the gate stands Acer griseum, the paperbark maple; and to the right, a wonderful Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum', the purple Japanese maple:

Down Gate with trees either sideDown Gate
Acer griseumPaperbark maple
Acer griseum leavesPaperbark maple leaves
Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'Purple Japanese maple
Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum' leavesPurple Japanese maple leaves

You can enjoy more of Westonbirt's maples a little further down the page!


The Fagus sylvatica 'laciniata' is a cut-leaf beech with leaves that don't look like your usual beech, although the beechnuts give the game away:

Fagus sylvatica 'laciniata'Cut-leaf beech branches
Fagus sylvatica 'laciniata' leavesCut-leaf leaves and beechnuts


I was excited to see a tree of the Nothofagus genus, whose trees hail from the Southern Hemisphere.

This fine specimen is of the species Nothofagus obliqua - the Roble beech. What the tree's label didn't tell me was that this tree received a new Latin name in 2013 and is now called Lophozonia obliqua. And, as with many of our tree friends, it has other common names, one of them being the Patagonian oak, a reference to its Chilean and Argentinian origins:

Lophozonia obliquaRoble beech tree
Lophozonia obliqua barkRoble beech bark
Lophozonia obliqua leaves and nutsRoble beech leaves and nuts


Our next tree looked like the star of a sci-fi movie. And that movie would be called Betula ermanii - or Erman's birch!

Some of this tree's branches stretched out almost at right angles from the trunk; and its shredding bark adds yet more interest:

Betula ermanii trunkErman's birch trunk
Betula ermanii bark and branchView standing under one of the branches
Betula ermanii leavesErman's birch leaves


Now for something a little shorter - Cornus kousa, the Kousa dogwood. Sometimes a tree, sometimes a shrub, this one was beautifully shaped. I missed the flowering season but the fruits were on full display:

Cornus kousaCornus kousa
Cornus kousa leavesKousa leaves
Cornus kousa fruitsCornus kousa fruits


Here's Abies delavayi, Delavay's fir, a very pretty tree with attractive leaves and cones. One of a number of trees - including the Magnolia Delavayi I saw in Kew - named after Père Jean-Marie Delavay, a botanist and missionary to China:

Abies delavayiDelavay's fir
Abies delavayi leaves and coneDelavay fir leaves and cone


Another large tree, the common hornbeam, Carpinus betulus. Its bark is smooth and you may see the nuts of this tree surrounded by pointy, leafy-looking bracts. There are three bracts around each nut. I was so fascinated by this wonderful arrangement that I made a close-up of a nut within its three-lobed bract - not a perfect shot but you'll get the idea I hope:

Carpinus betulusCommon hornbeam
Carpinus betulus bract close upClose-up of nut inside its bract
Carpinus betulus bractsBracts of the common hornbeam
Carpinus betulus leavesHornbeam leaves

phew! let's relax ... with more of westonbirt's maples :)

Westonbirt Arboretum is famous for its spectacular autumn maples, although the summer ones shown below are also great!

You'll observe some very interesting leaf shapes as well as maple bark that doesn't look anything like you'd expect - unless you are familiar with the snakebark maples, whose bark does indeed resemble snakeskin. 

Take a look at our first snakebark maple: Acer morifolium, the mulberry leaf maple:

Acer morifolium treeAcer morifolium: mulberry-leaf maple
Acer morifolium leavesAcer morifolium leaves
Acer morifolium barkAcer morifolium bark :)


Another of Westonbirt's snakebark maples is Acer pectinatum subsp. Forrestii. I'm not aware of a common name for this tree and I'm going to guess that it's named after George Forrest, another adventurous botanist who also visited China:

Acer pectinatum subsp. ForrestiiAcer pectinatum subsp. Forrestii
Acer pectinatum leavesBeautiful big leaves
Acer pectinatum barkFabulous bark!


Acer pensylvanicum, the striped maple, or moosewood, is another snakebark. I saw two moosewoods at Westonbirt, one a young tree, the other a fuller-grown tree:

Young Acer pensylvanicumStriped maple
Mature Acer pensylvanicumMore mature striped maple
Acer pensylvanicum leafStriped maple leaf
Acer pensylvanicum barkStriped maple bark


This is Acer japonicum - the full moon maple, or just Japanese maple:

Acer japonicumJapanese maple tree
Acer japonicum leavesJapanese maple leaves
Acer japonicum barkJapanese maple bark


Two fabulous trees to finish off our maples: on the left, Acer palmatum 'sanguineum', a Japanese maple; on the right, another Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum', the purple Japanese maple:

Acer palmatum 'sanguineum'Acer palmatum 'sanguineum'
Acer palmatum 'sanguineum' leavesAcer palmatum 'sanguineum' leaves
Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'
Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum' leavesAcer palmatum 'Atropurpureum' leaves

more stunning trees, more amazing leaves

There's a lot more to see of Westonbirt Arboretum, but I'm going to share just a few more trees that definitely deserve your attention!

Let's begin with Koelreuteria paniculata, the goldenrain or pride of India tree. This is one of my favourites, as the shape of both tree and leaf is lovely:

Koelreuteria paniculataGoldenrain tree
Koelreuteria paniculata leavesGoldenrain leaves


Here's another winner in the interesting leaf competition: Liriodendron chinense, the Chinese tulip tree:

Liriodendron chinenseChinese tulip tree
Liriodendron chinense leafChinese tulip tree leaf


I don't know about you, but when I think of what we in the UK call poplar and our friends in North America call cottonwood, I imagine a tall tree with relatively small leaves.

Populus lasiocarpa must be a bit of a rebel as its leaves are wonderfully big! And I love the common name for this tree: the Chinese necklace poplar:

Populus lasiocarpaChinese necklace poplar
Populus lasiocarpa barkChinese necklace poplar bark
Populus lasiocarpa leafChinese necklace poplar leaf


A similar story can be told about two trees from the species Tilia - basswood in North America, lime in the UK, and also called linden. I usually expect limes to have smaller leaves than the ones below!

Check outTilia heterophylla, the white basswood tree:

Tilia heterophyllaWhite basswood tree
Tilia heterophylla leavesWhite basswood leaf


Another basswood or lime with large leaves is Tilia oliveri, Oliver's lime. This was an impressive tree:

Tilia oliveri treeTilia oliveri
Tilia oliveri barkTilia oliveri bark
Tilia oliveri leafTilia oliveri leaf

More large leaves on a whitebeam, this time!

Meet Sorbus thibetica  'John Mitchell', the Tibetan whitebeam. What a tree this is, love the rounded leaves and the calm grey bark:

Sorbus thibeticaTibetan whitebeam
Sorbus thibetica leavesTibetan whitebeam leaves


For our last "big-leafer" I'd like to present Carya - a hickory tree!

Carya treeHickory tree
Carya barkHickory bark
Carya leavesHickory leaves

a nice little group of trees to end our walk

Griselinia racemosa is native to Chile and Argentina - and I haven't found a common name for it. The genus Griselina is named after the 18th century Italian botanist, Francesco Griselini - yet for some reason I had convinced myself that this tree was named after a female botanist ;)

Griselinia racemosaGriselinia racemosa
Griselinia racemosa leavesGriselinia racemosa leaves


Next up: Zanthoxylum ailanthoides. Does this sound like some kind of toothpaste to you? If so, no wonder, as this Asiatic plant is called the Japanese toothache tree as well as the ailanthus-like prickly ash!

According to the label, our toothache tree is native to Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan:

Zanthoxylum ailanthoidesThe toothache tree
Zanthoxylum ailanthoides leavesToothache tree leaves


Aha! A Eucalyptus! Yes indeed, this is Eucalyptus brookeriana or Brooker's gum, named for Murray Ian Hill Brooker, a eucalpyts expert:

Eucalyptus brookerianaBrooker's gum
Eucalyptus brookeriana leavesBrooker's gum leaves


Our last tree today is Cordyline australis, the cabbage tree, which hails from New Zealand. I'm hoping to get back to Westonbirt and see this tree again to check its growth:

Cordyline australis at Westonbirt

I hope you enjoyed this walk around Westonbirt Arboretum. Let's hope I get another chance to visit soon to see yet more tree-treasures in this wonderful place!


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